Tool Tip Tuesday


Grinding the perfect tool is a craft that can take many years to perfect. However, technology and automation have made the job of designing and grinding all types of tools much easier. Knowledge is power and we want our customers to have access to information on how to get the best out of their machines and software to be as efficient as possible.

Earlier this year we launched #ToolTipTuesday where we share tips on how you can improve your tool designs, save time and delight your customers. Posted on our social channels LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and on our website, every week we send out a new post on a range of topics. Simply follow one of our channels or look out for the hashtag #ToolTipTuesday to read our informative posts.

Tip #1: Scripting

Today’s tip focuses on scripting used to create a tool geometry. Thomson Mathew, Software Product Manager said: “Exclusive to ANCA, scripting is a simple programming language that enables you to automate what was a repetitive manual task. Rather than drawing a tool design from scratch, having to add in the arcs of the geometry for example – you drop your tool script into iGrind or iPunch and it creates your design instantly - magic. A one-stop-shop the script creates a new tool file, adding operations and setting parameters automatically.” Where do you find these scripts you ask… contact us at to get trained up on how to create your own scripts or speak to your local branch to tell us what you need. Read more at





Tip #2: Scripting

In today’s Tool Tip Tuesday we’ll show you how scripts can automate and simplify daily tasks. The script in this example can help you save endmill files in a specific filename format, by extracting certain information from the file that is currently open and then creating a file name based on this. For example, tool type, corner radius, tool diameter, number of flutes, helix and taper angle. After clicking ‘OK’, the script will also save the file in an appropriate directory. The ability to run scripts is a standard feature of ANCA ToolRoom software, so if you already have an ANCA machine you’re ready to start scripting. And the best part? It’s free!





Tip #3: Scripting

In today’s Tool Tip Tuesday we continue to look at how scripting can automate and simplify tasks. We all know the importance of scheduling in a production or manufacturing process to optimise machine workloads. This is where scripting is extremely useful during the planning stage to maintain production schedules. You can run a script on a folder in which your grinding files are kept, and it will look at each .TOM file and individually calculate an estimated cycle time. The cycle time results are presented in a CSV format which can be imported into your business system to update scheduling information on your ANCA machines. Interested in giving scripting a shot? ANCA Club has a library of sample scripts for you – including the one mentioned in this tip – to try out, so you can see for yourself just how sophisticated or simple a script can be. If you’re not an ANCA Club member, email us at and we can set you up with a login.




Tip #4: Scripting

In today’s Tool Tip Tuesday we have a script that uses task automation to help you reduce set-up times and programming errors from manual input. Most drill drawings generally specify core and OD taper as a y-offset per 100mm regardless of the OD or flute length. Using the script, the y-offset is automatically converted to the required taper depending on the OD or flute length specified from the common parameters. The automated calculation performed by the script saves time and helps you avoid manual calculation errors. This is only one of the many ways scripting can be applied to suit your business needs. To explore other uses for scripting, check out the library of sample scripts available in the ANCA Club. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of scripting, contact your local branch or




Tip #5: Scripting

Ever tried to create a geometry for a ripper form or roughing cutter? I know it can be tough, so to finish off the year let’s hear another useful scripting tip for Tool Tip Tuesday. Creating a geometry for a ripper form or roughing cutter can be a difficult and tedious task, especially when the diameter changes and the form must vary accordingly. But don’t fear, this task can be simplified by the use of a script where by the form is automatically output as a DXF or directly into your Profile editor with a simple click of a button. You can find the script in the ANCA Club for existing customers. If you don’t have an account drop us an email and we will set you up with one.





Tip #6: CIM3D

Did you know you can simultaneously compare two tools in CIM3D? We’ll show you how to do this in today’s Tool Tip Tuesday. Follow these steps: 1) Simulate a tool and save it as a VRML file, i.e. FILE > SAVE > VRML FILE (.WRL) 2) Make a change to the tool and simulate again. 3) Go to FILE > OPEN and select the saved VRML file. Both models will be shown side by side in CIM3D. Double clicking on the VRML model will display a menu with an “Edit position” option, which can be used to move the position of the model. You can also set the XYZ offsets to zero which will overlay the two models on top of one another. Turning on the “Cutting Edges” option and changing colour mapping can also help in comparing differences between models. This image shows a comparison of two corner radius tools – one with curvature gash and the other with plane gash.





Tip #7: Whitestick

Do you have the white stick option on your ANCA machine? If you’ve answered yes, in today’s Tool Tip Tuesday we’ll show you how you can trigger dressing and/or white sticking of wheels after the flute grinding spindle load has exceeded a nominated threshold, rather than at fixed tool intervals. This function is available in the Dress Wheel operation. Simply select Yes under Spindle Load Trigger and enter the desired threshold percentage. The software easily handles any white sticking task, while monitoring the white stick’s condition to determine how to dress the wheel and when to “clean” the stick to a new surface.





Tip #8: Complex parameters

In today’s #ToolTipTuesday we will show you how complex parameters can be applied in our ToolRoom software. A complex parameter is one that you can optionally vary along the length it is applied to, instead of being restricted to just a constant value. Parameters with this ability have a Sigma (Σ) symbol next to their input field as shown in the example. Clicking on the Σ symbol displays a dialog box which allows complex specification of the parameter – similar to using ANCA’s Variable Helix Wizard, for those who are familiar with it. For example, instead of a constant Fluting feedrate, this can be specified as: 1) A linear changing feedrate from EOT to Shank 2) A constant feedrate all the way with reduction towards the shank 3) Arbitrarily as a spline function. The image in our example shows the feedrate specified as spline function where we can control feedrate per step and another reduction while approaching the shank. This ability is also available for some of the OD land width parameters in OD finish cycles to control land width, specially on taper tools.



Tip #9: Custom walk

Need to produce a special end-face gash walk geometry on standard milling tools? Custom walk editor is your solution! The option to choose custom walk is available under the gash method. This feature is useful for tools, for example larger diameter 2-fluted endmills, where the gashing operation is needed to remove large amounts of material. It is also useful in cases where special walk geometry may be needed, such as the design and manufacturing of high helix corner radius tools where complex end face geometries are required.






Tip #10: Control points

In last week’s Tool Tip Tuesday we showed you where to find the custom walk feature in the ToolRoom software… this week, we show you how easy it is to edit the geometry of a custom walk using control points. The control point feature can be found and selected under the View tab. Turning it on displays the start and end points of each element. You can drag and drop these points, enabling mouse manipulation of the 2D geometry. By the way, control points also work with splines!




Tip #11: Flute cross section

In today’s tip we’ll show you how to take your fluting operations to a higher level with a couple of handy features. When a flute operation page is open in iGrind, by right clicking in the cross section tab in the Integrated 3D Graphics (I3DG) section it brings up a menu bar with the following options:
• Export to DXF – Exports the flute shape as DXF for comparison to the drawing flute shape or for wheel shape generation.
• Add reference diameter – This comes in handy for checking hook angles or rake angles relative to the smaller diameter especially for step tools.
• Straight lip overlay – Useful for comparing and confirming the flute shape and the lip shape with the point angle inclusive.
These options are available for Flute from Solid and Formed Flute from Solid.




Tip #12: Cycletime display for RoboMate

At ANCA we’re always making improvements to help our customers improve their productivity and save time. If you have the RoboMate loader on your machine, you’ll appreciate today’s tip! Did you know that our RoboMate page in ToolRoom has been given a facelift? It has been enhanced to display cycle time per toolgroup, job and schedule. The display includes cycle time for individual toolgroups and the job (which is all toolgroups combined). This allows you to pre-plan your production runs when using RoboMate based on cycle time gathered from real-time information.



Tip #13: Set default value

In today’s #ToolTipTuesday we’ll show you how you can change the default value for a parameter in iGrind. All you have to do is set the value, right click on the parameter, and select “Set as default value” from the popup menu. This means the next time you add an operation using the same Tool Type, it will default to the value you have inserted. This can be used for setting default feedrates for certain wheel types, or rake angles for certain material types.




Tip #14: Auto save

Ever worked on a document or email which you’ve just invested a great deal of time in, only to have your computer crash and then realising you’ve forgotten to save it? We’ve all been there! Today’s tool tip will help to save you from that pain. By selecting Auto Backup in the User Preferences menu, your tool file will be automatically saved at regular intervals – which you can also set under Auto Backup Period. The file name will be the same as the tool but have a “.bak” extension. This ensures that your file is regularly backed up, and saves you time from having to manually do it which comes in handy when designing and creating complex cutting tools.





Tip #15: User preference menu

We have another simple but useful tip for you today. By going to File > Preferences and selecting the Saving tab, you can set the number of files you’d like to appear in your recent file list. Accessing files under the File > Reopen menu not only supplies easy access to your most recent documents, it's a great way to find a document which you’ve forgotten where you’ve saved. This is especially handy when you’re working on a few different tools and need to open previous files for comparison or reference.




Tip #16: Open worksheet from i3dg

Did you know there’s an easy way to bring up a worksheet for an operation you’re working on? Right clicking on the integrated 3D graphics (i3dg) section in iGrind brings up the Open Worksheet option from the pop-up menu. Clicking on this opens up the required worksheet for a particular operation. This comes in handy when you are working on multiple operations and adjustments are required on certain parameters.




Tip #17: Validation range on parameters

In today’s tip we’ll show you how to set validation ranges on parameters in iGrind. Upper and lower validation ranges can be set on most parameters. All you have to do is right click on the desired parameter, select "Set Validation Range", and enter the limits for the parameter. This will prevent operators from accidentally entering parameter values. This is an administration feature and can be password protected through the "Utilities - Password - Administration Options" menu item.





Tip #18: Calculator

Did you know you can bring up a calculator for a numeric parameter simply by right clicking on any of the fields? Once you have punched in your calculations and clicked on OK, the calculated value will be automatically transferred into the parameter. This means you don’t have to use external calculators and helps to avoid the risk of making accidental mistakes on worksheets.




Tip #19: Global tool infeed

In today's tip we'll look at how global tool infeeds are affected by disabled and deleted operations. A disabled operation in iGrind affects global tool infeeds, while deleted operations do not. For example, all operations will shift in X by the endface infeed, even if the Endface Finish operation is disabled. The below image shows that the X-infeed of 0.5mm still applies to the rest of the operations although the facet point is disabled.




Tip #20: Password protection

Did you know that iGrind lets you password protect your .TOM files, either completely or partially? Options to set your password can be found under Utilities > Password in the tool bar. From here, you can choose to protect the entire tool file or just various options in the .TOM file. In the video example you can see that everything is password protected except the Tool Offsets, Operations Enabling/Disabling and Custom Page.


Tip #21: Zoom using a window

When you’re working on the machine, it can be tricky using the touch screen to zoom in on a profile – especially while editing complex profile geometries. Here’s a tip that will help make this task easier! First, click on the ‘Zoom using window’ icon from the menu bar. Next, use the stylus to create a window on the profile and this will now zoom into the area you have selected. Finally, you can use the Bird’s Eye View window on the bottom right to navigate to the section of the profile that you want to edit.


Tip #22: Custom page

The Custom Page is used to streamline the fine tuning of grinding parameters that are used frequently and are distributed across several operations. The benefits of having a Custom Page is that you can have any parameter of your choice to be displayed and changed in a single convenient location. So how do you do this? To add parameters to a Custom Page, right-click on the parameter and click on ‘Add to Custom Page'. Once the first parameter has been added, the Custom Page will appear as a separate tab next to the Common Parameters tab. You can also use the Custom Page Editor to arrange how how the parameters are sorted based on your preference.


Tip #23: Auto create custom page

This week’s video will demonstrate how Custom Pages can be auto created for similar tool types once you have decided on the frequently used parameters. This will avoid repetitive creation of custom pages for individual tools.


Tip #24: Pip removal or step undercut

It can be a challenge to create step tool blanks to the right step length, and in some occasions alterations may be required due to drawing changes. A small pip is created at the start of the step section due to incorrect step length or sometimes due to the blank prep wheel wear. This may also happen when we re-grind step tools. In today’s tool tip we will show you different ways to remove this pip during the grinding process as well as create an undercut at the step section.


Tip #25: Custom retract editor

Do you design and manufacture complex cutting tools? Do you also design and manufacture the workholding or tool support? Well, this tip is for you! You’ll find that the custom retract editor in iGrind comes in handy as it gives you full control over the way that the grinding wheel retracts away from non-standard workholding. It also allows you to build a full retract ‘sequence’ based on their production needs.


Tip #26: Blank editor with coolant holes

Did you know that straight, branched or helical holes can be added to cutting tools through the blank editor in iGrind? This week’s video will show how you can create simple and straight coolant holes on cutting tools.


Tip #27: Branched coolant holes

Last week’s #ToolTipTuesday video demonstrated how simple and straight coolant holes can be defined through the blank editor. In this week’s video we look at creating branched coolant holes on cutting tools.

Tip #28: Advanced coolant hole

In the last couple of weeks we looked at creating simple and branched coolant holes. This week we take it a step further with advanced coolant hole design. This is quite critical when you have pre-formed blanks with specified coolant hole lead and the tool design has changed where we need to change the flute to a different lead. Here we are able to simulate the tool and check for coolant break in the flute and see if the blanks are suitable. 


Tip #29: Coolant hole analysis

Did you know CIM3D can automatically detect coolant hole breaches and analyse the required wall thickness tolerance on your cutting tool? The Analyse function can be accessed in the ‘Coolant Hole Breach Detection’ window and will display any breaches with colour coding. In this video we show you how to adjust parameters in operations and analyse the results to eliminate any coolant hole breaches.


Tip #30: Enabling/disabling operations

Enabling or disabling operations is easily done with the push of a button – or the click of a mouse. If you’re working on an ANCA machine with a touchscreen, it’s even easier – not to mention fun! – to enable or disable multiple operations by swiping across the icons.


Tip #31: Favourite operations

Did you know that the Add Operations dialog features a simplified layout with the addition of a user-controlled favourite operation list? This functionality gives you more control of your production tools by adding only the required operations to this list rather than having to search through all the available operations. To make it even more user-friendly, we have extended the operation categories and added a search function.


Tip #32: iGrind look and feel

If you’re tired of the same iGrind interface on your mahine or simulator, why not switch it up with something different? You can easily change the look and feel of the iGrind interface from the User Preferences menu where you can choose from three options. 


Tip #33: Rename/restore operations

It’s really easy to rename operations in iGrind to make them more identifiable. Just right-click on the operation, select Rename Operation and enter the name of your choice. You will see that the font has been italicised to indicate that a custom name has been entered for that particular operation. To restore it to its default name, right click on the operation, select Rename Operation and click on Restore.


Tip #34: Tool notes and attachments

Did you know that tool files can be saved with notes and attachments? Files can be attached using the attachments panel on the notes tab. This feature is useful if you want to link tool diagrams, images and other related documents directly to the tool file. If a tool file has been saved with tool notes, they will be displayed in a popup window every time the file is loaded. Tool notes can be used to save important information like special wheel packs or operation parameters being used in the grinding files.